Answers to common questions: Immigrants attending MSU Denver
MSU Denver is proud to educate immigrants, refugee, and undocumented students from across Colorado and the world!
This section provides some helpful information about the most common questions that first-generation immigrants and recent arrivals to the state of Colorado. Information and resources specifically for DACA, TPS, and undocumented students can be found in the Dreamer Zone!
Using your college education in the U.S.
Many employers in the U.S. will accept your degree and/or work experience from your home country! When you are looking for employment on job sites such as Indeed.com or the City & County of Denver’s Job Center, look at the position descriptions to see what qualifications are needed. If the advertised position requires a degree from a U.S. institution, then it will list this requirement. Often, your experience and education from outside the U.S. will be valuable to employers in the U.S., and speaking multiple languages and being familiar with cultures and life in a different country can be a very valuable skills.
Some employers may ask to see a U.S. Credential Evaluation Report of your foreign degree; for more information on that process, please see below.
Some types of jobs (public school teacher, social worker, accountant, nurse, and more) require professional licenses, which allow you to practice a certain type of activity in the state of Colorado. The Department of Regulatory Agencies oversees and regulates these types of professional licenses in Colorado, and a list of professions that DORA regulates (and for which you need a license) can be found here. Many licenses require evidence of education, as well as some practical experience. Depending on the license, you may need to earn a degree from an accredited school in the U.S. before you can apply for such a license. If you have work experience in that field experience, or have completed relevant university courses, then this process will be faster compared to students who are starting without experience or previous college experience.
Courses and degrees that you completed outside of the U.S. might help you earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at MSU Denver. Depending on what courses are needed for the degree you want to receive from MSU Denver, you may be able to receive credit for your previous academic accomplishments so that you do not have to re-take those same courses.
It is not possible to transfer an entire degree – to earn a degree from a U.S. institution, you have to graduate from that specific university. At MSU Denver, you can transfer up to 90 credits towards a Bachelor’s degree, which usually requires 120 credits (sometimes more) to complete.
Usually, international transcripts only fulfill elective credits, and we recommend that students with degrees or college courses from abroad work with their academic advisors and department faculty to explore options to potentially receive credits for specific courses.
To have your degree or college courses recognized by MSU Denver, a course-by-course evaluation of your transcripts must be completed by a professional transcript evaluation service. (More information about international transcripts and U.S. Credential Evaluation Reports below.) The service agency must be a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES), and we suggest that you choose a service that can send us a copy of your verified transcript(s) together with the evaluation report, such as WES ICAP or ECE. If you do not wish to transfer your international credentials for completion of an undergraduate degree at MSU Denver, or do not intend to apply to a master program at this time, we do not require a Credential Evaluation Report.
If the evaluation service does not send us your verified academic documents, then the college or university must directly send us your official academic records. Official transcripts must be sent directly to MSU Denver by the issuing institution: [email protected]
For some exceptions (especially for individuals who were educated in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, or Venezuela), please see below.
International transcripts are records of the classes or degrees you have completed at a university outside of the U.S. A transcript is usually provided by the university or school that you attended in your home country. “Official transcripts” must come directly from the school; “unofficial transcripts” are school records that you provide yourself. Depending on what you want to do with those records, a U.S. university or employer may ask for official (as well as translated and evaluated) transcripts, also called a U.S. Credential Evaluation Report.
A Credential Evaluation Report is a comparison of your international transcripts (either a foreign diploma or degree, or college courses you have completed) to an equivalent degree in the United States. Credential Evaluation Reports can be used to market your skills for employment or to continue your education in the United States. For example, at MSU Denver a Credential Evaluation Report can be used to get credit for courses completed at your international college or university so that you don’t have to take those courses again at MSU Denver.
A course-by-course report identifies and describes each course taken at an international educational institution with an equivalent U.S. semester credit and an equivalent U.S. grade. (See sample report from WES) A document-by-document report simply highlights the U.S. equivalency of an international credential but does not go into detail. This is typically useful to apply for employment. For example, if you apply for a position that requires a Bachelor’s degree, a document-by-document report can be used to suffice such requirement. See sample report from WES.
If you were educated in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, and Venezuela, and the university where you completed coursework or earned your degree has closed or cannot be contacted anymore, then you may be able to use the WES Gateway Program to have your transcripts evaluated, but you will need access to unofficial transcripts – in other words, you will need to possess at least one piece of credible evidence of your degree or coursework by your previous academic institution.
Emily Griffith Technical College can assist with this process and is affiliated with the WES Gateway Program; contact [email protected] for more information.
In-state tuition for immigrants
“In-state tuition” is a lower tuition rate for being a resident of Colorado. “Non-Resident” is a higher rate of tuition that students pay when coming from outside of the state, including international students. After being admitted to MSU, you will receive an email that states whether you will be charged “in-state” or “out-of-state” tuition. (See below for “Eligibility for in-state tuition”). Residency is determined based on domicile, which consist of both continuous physical presence as well a multiple intent or legal ties to the state.
Yes! In-state tuition and state financial aid (such as the Colorado College Responsibility Grant) are available to DACA/undocumented students.
Students with DACA status are eligible for in-state tuition after establishing domicile in Colorado for 12 months or more prior to the start of classes, but are not eligible for state financial aid unless they also meet the ASSET criteria (see below). DACA-status students who meet ASSET criteria are eligible for both in-state tuition and state financial aid.
Undocumented students without DACA need to fully meet the ASSET criteria (see below) to receive in-state tuition and to be eligible for state financial aid, and cannot use the “12 months in Colorado” rule to be eligible for in-state tuition.
Eligibility for in-state tuition via ASSET
In Colorado, to be eligible for in-state tuition under the ASSET state law, you must meet the following criteria:
- Have attended a public or private high school in Colorado for at least one year immediately before graduation or GED completion, AND
- Show presence in Colorado at least 12 months before starting classes at a college/university
- Successfully apply for the College Opportunity Fund, or COF (https://cof.college-assist.org/Apply) as well as the Affidavit (only needed for DACA/undocumented students) – more info below
To qualify for in-state tuition via the “12 months of domicile in Colorado” rule, students must be able to show that the authorized person (student if 23 or over, Parent if student under 23) had established 12 months of both presence as well as multiple legal ties to the state before classes start, and that they received DACA at least 12 months prior to the start of classes.
For more information or to get help, please talk to the Office of Admissions or the Immigrant Services Program. (See above for contact info.)
This sometimes happens, and can be fixed if you are eligible for in-state tuition. To request & receive in-state tuition, you need to:
- Provide your most recent high school transcript to the Office of Admission
- You may need to show a copy of your Employment Authorization Document to the Admission front desk or email to [email protected].
- Complete the (attached) In-state Correction Form (for items 1. through 9. on the bottom of the form, use your parents’ information if you are under 23; Include as much information as you can – some items, like “registered to vote”, will not apply to you or your parents)
- Complete the College Opportunity Fund application online (https://cof.college-assist.org/Apply; more info on this stipend below); for help with the application, please contact the Office of Admission, Jourdan Student Success Building 1st floor, or Immigrant Services Program, Jourdan Student Success Building rm. 238, 303-605-5390
- Complete the Affidavit that is part of the COF application – you can do this online (https://cof.college-assist.org/Apply) or on paper (attached)
- If you are DACA/undocumented and are completing the COF application online, check the option “I do not have or wish to provide my SSN” – this will automatically bring up the COF Affidavit; you can also get a paper COF Application & Affidavit from the Office of Admissions or the Immigrant Services Program (303-605-5390)
- To complete the COF Affidavit, it is recommended that you know your 10-digit SASID (often but not always, the same as your high school ID number) which you might be able find on your high school transcript. If not, please ask your high school counselor, secretary, or records office.
Individuals who are in the process of applying for Permanent Residency are classified with the university as Adjustment Applicants. Eligibility for in-state tuition for them depends on when they applied for adjustment. The student will need to have applied for adjustment at least a year prior to the first day of classes to be eligible. Once the tuition classification officer (at the Office of Admissions) reviews USCIS documentation regarding the individual’s status adjustment, they will be able to provide a better estimate on whether they qualify for in-state tuition for the semester that they would like to begin studying at MSU Denver.
Individuals who are in the process of applying for Asylum may be eligible for in-state tuition if they begin taking classes 1 year or more after they started the process; this depends on their I-94 (Arrival Record) status. For example, individuals who entered the country with an I-94 status of “Humanitarian Parole”, then they may be eligible for in-state tuition. The student will need to show their I-94 to the classification officer, who will make the ultimate determination.
Colorado Senate Bill 18-087 provides individuals admitted to the United States as refugees or who have certain Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) and have settled in Colorado with access to in-state tuition immediately upon settlement in Colorado. The bill defines “settle” as having made their home in Colorado and presently intend to reside permanently in the state. To be eligible for in-state tuition from day one of arrival in Colorado, it is important that no more than six months were spent in another part of the U.S. after entering the country.
For F-1, F-2, H-3, H-4 (if the visa holder is the spouse or child of an H-3), J-1 and J-2 (if the J-1 visa holder is a student or trainee), M-1, and M-2, domicile cannot be established at any point in the U.S. while on these statuses.
Financial aid for immigrants
Financial aid – scholarships, grants, or loans – to attend a U.S. accredited university can be divided into different types:
- Financial aid provided by the federal government (for example, Pell grants or federal loans)
- Financial aid provided by the state of Colorado (for example, Colorado Student Grant)
- Financial aid provided by the school you’re attending (for example, MSU Denver’s Need-based Grant)
- Financial aid provided by foundations or organizations outside of the university (for example, the Dream.US scholarship)
- Student loans provided by your bank or credit union
- Tuition assistance offered by your current employers
Please note that many – but not all – types of financial aid require in-state tuition and enrollment in at least 6 credits. Most financial aid options are limited to towards earning your first undergraduate degree.
Students who are not eligible to receive federal financial aid should instead complete the Colorado Application for State Financial Aid.
In addition, students attending MSU Denver should also complete the General Scholarship Application to be considered for financial aid provided by MSU Denver.
A list of scholarships provided by foundations or organizations outside of the university can be found here.
Talk with staff to learn more about higher education or attending MSU Denver!
Click here to make an appointment with Immigrant Services Program staff!
Call our office at 303-615-0035
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Immigrant Services Program
Campus Box 62
P.O. Box 173362
Denver, CO 80217-3362